WThe film industry always focuses the cameras on itself – and it has done this very often, from Billy Wilders “Sunset Boulevard” (1950) to Godard’s account “The Contempt” (1963) to silent film adoration “The Artist” (2011) done – is like standing between two mirrors and looking into a depth that you know is a suggestion. Then nostalgia quickly mixes with melancholy. It is good when the suggestive is cheekily exaggerated to pompous. In any case, one would not have expected that the golden age of Hollywood could become a progressive counter-narrative. But the unexpected is the lucky currency in the film.
The idea was not only to enable several naive, if not innocent, happiness seekers, who belong to those who had little to say in the film business after the Second World War – blacks, women, gays – to take over the whole of Hollywood leave, everything stands and falls with the size of the suggestion: the mirrors must be so enormous that no edge is visible. It is certainly a good prerequisite for this if one of the most powerful TV titans is behind the project: the ingeniously creative series inventor Ryan Murphy (“Nip / Tuck”, “Glee”, “American Horror Story”, “Pose”, “The Politician”) whose services Netflix exclusively secured for 2018 for an unimaginable $ 300 million (for five years).
From the winning “Gone with the Wind” Grandezza
A look like this one, which was played at the end of the forties, is only possible if money is not a problem (the sets alone!), Self-confidence grows to heaven and the roles are filled with the hottest climbers: women, at who, as intended, have no air; Men with believable James Dean or Rock Hudson aura; a cigar-chewing studio boss who is not just a parody. Just take the opening credits in which the protagonists climb the then Hollywoodland lettering in the hills: How Laura Harrier as technicolor star Camille Washington and David Corenswet as young ex-soldier Jack Castello – he gives the classic Hollywood Heroes – balancing over the edge of the letters in the sunrise and gazing into the distance, this is so captivating “Gone with the Wind” Grandezza that everything that is said falls away.
Jack wants to be an actor, but has only his looks, no experience. Because it doesn’t work right away, he ends up wearing down in a bar – including pure James Dean – where he is hired by the dazzling petrol station attendant Ernie (Dylan McDermott) for his brothel gas station. Because Jack refuses homosexual services, he still has to find a gay man. This is easy to do. “Tinseltown”, the honeymoon town, is buzzing with talent of all kinds. African American Archie (Jeremy Pope), actually a screenwriter, who soon falls in love with the semi-fictional Rock Hudson (Jake Picking, outstandingly uncertain and charismatic) soon belongs to Ernies Fill-up boys, who now double up a glamorous George Cukor sex party.
The cunning and also realist agent Henry Willson (full of self-loathing played by Jim Parsons) should make it clear that Hollywood and prostitution are closely related. He signs Rock Hudson on clear terms. But all of this is at best partially meant as an accusation in the “MeToo” sense – and never as “Whore Babylon” Puritanism. Rather, prostitution does not get away so badly: here and there, it is about dream fulfillment. According to the code word, petrol station customers order a trip to “Dreamland”. Nothing can stop such protagonists. The semi-Filipino director Raymond (Darren Criss) cheers the open-minded producer Dick Samuels (Joe Mantello) even Archie’s parable about outsiders in lying Hollywood, whose hour seems to have come when the studio boss (Rob Reiner) becomes indecent. The crisis as an opportunity.
When the tragic main character of Raymond’s film, Peg Entwistle, who actually jumped from the “H” of the lettering in 1932, is also rewritten as an African American – Raymond’s girlfriend Camille wants to play her – we finally turn into a fairytale, although the appearance of Hattie McDaniel (Queen Latifah), the first black Oscar winner (admittedly for a slave in “Gone with the Wind”), as well as Eleanor Roosevelt’s support are supposed to suggest that another Hollywood was at least conceivable. The fact that all the characters remain two-dimensional and in their polished superficiality are reminiscent of “Westworld” hosts is correct because they, together with dialogues and poses, originate from the old film hero cosmos. Moving star cuts, so to speak, post-emancipated.
Murphy subverts classic, outwardly honest, inwardly racist, sexist and homophobic Hollywood with the means of this classic Hollywood. It has charm. This series, which furiously describes the Oscar story with its counterfactual teardrop finale, has much more to do with Tarantino’s historically freehand fantasy “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” than with the Harvey-Weinstein process. It is what the Hollywood lie factory has always been ideally: terrific entertainment and jumping through the mirror.
The series Hollywood is available on Netflix.